Aboriginal Business Capacity Building Programs in the Central Interior of British Columbia: A Collaborative Project Between the University and Communities
Aboriginal communities in Canada are typically marginalized, have very low employment participation rates, and have limited economic infrastructure. The downturn in global economies further marginalized these communities. The University of Northern British Columbia’s (UNBC) Continuing Studies department piloted an Aboriginal and Small Business Leadership Certificate program in the central interior of British Columbia (BC) between November 2008 and May 2009. The aim of the program was to address some of the issues faced by Aboriginal communities affected by the mountain pine beetle infestation in central BC. The success of the pilot project led UNBC Continuing Studies to collaborate with some communities in the central interior of BC to access funds through the federal government’s Community Adjustment Funds initiative in order to develop and deliver a business capacity building project. The project consisted of a certificate program with enhanced Aboriginal content and an internship program to provide workplace experience for students. This paper reports on the practice of community engagement and learning as a result of this project.